DALLAS — The North American tour of “Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion” is giving a nice boost to the little-known Dutch couturier.
“With each exhibition I’m meeting new people, and most of the museums are acquiring my work, so it’s a whole new journey of finding a new family,” van Herpen told WWD last week at a preview of the show at the Dallas Museum of Art.
It’s definitely won her new clients, she said.
Based in Amsterdam, van Herpen focuses on her two annual couture collections, often collaborating with an artist or architect to develop unusual processes and materials. All of the works are wearable, though some appear hazardous, like the stiff, jagged mirror foil dress in the exhibition.
Van Herpen does very little ready-to-wear, a field she thinks is oversaturated.
“I really believe I can add something to fashion within my couture because I can collaborate with other disciplines, and I can really move forward the techniques and materiality and the vision of fashion,” van Herpen said. “I have had periods where I did a little bit more of the ready-to-wear, but I feel there is already enough of that.”
Van Herpen is also at work on a jewelry collaboration that should come to fruition within a year. The goal is to gain distribution, said the designer, who wore a metal bat necklace with her black jumpsuit.
The exhibition features three of the most innovative and sculptural works from each of her couture collections from 2008 to 2015 as well as several eye-popping shoes.
Her inspiration is rooted in art, science, architecture and dance, from her years studying to be a professional ballerina.
“Dance is very important,” she said. “I think in a way you can see it in my work because everything is about movement and three dimensionality and the space around the body. Classical ballet taught me a lot about my own body and the relationship of the body and space around you.”
Van Herpen said she gave up ballet to study fashion because of her fascination with materials.
“With dance it’s all about the body,” she reflected. “When you are not dancing, the artwork is not there. What I really like about my artwork is it has a life after I make it. It goes to a person, and it takes a new identity because the wearer has a huge influence on the work. Even in a museum it’s a different context, and it’s not from me anymore, which I like.”
The DMA is the fourth stop on the tour, which began in 2015 at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. It runs through Aug. 20 here and then travels to the Cincinnati Museum of Art in the fall and the Phoenix Art Museum next spring.
The show was co-organized by the High Museum of Art with the Groninger Museum in the Netherlands. The Groninger owns about 30 of the works in the show, according to visual arts curator Mark Wilson.
“We believe this exhibition will resonate in this city,” said DMA director Agustín Arteaga, citing the city’s fashion and design communities. “Dallas is a city that is ignited by the talent of young people, a city always interested in embracing the new.”